Mixed (Stick Around)Season ReviewTV Series

The Good Doctor: Season 3 – Review/ Summary with Spoilers

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Season 3 of “The Good Doctor,” especially the second half, felt like it was meant to do course correction and present fans with long-desired moments and open them to new possibilities.


NetworkABC
Creator(s)David Shore
Genre(s)Drama
Noted Cast
ShaunFreddie Highmore
LeaPaige Spara
CarlyJasika Nicole
ClaireAntonia Thomas
MorganFiona Gubelmann
Dr. GlassmanRichard Schiff
Dr. LimChristina Chang
AlexWill Yun Lee
Dr. MelendezNicholas Gonzalez
Dr. AndrewsHill Harper
DebbieSheila Kelley

This content contains pertinent spoilers.

Season Plot Synopsis

The focus of season 3 of “The Good Doctor” is dealing with the trauma and issues which bridle you from living your best life. For Shaun, that is dealing with the idea his autism will limit his ability to find love and secure it in life. This is primarily shown through Lea’s rejection of him, despite Carly bending over backwards to figure out a way for things to work between them.

As for the others? Claire is learning to deal with loss. Not just in terms of death, but also the loss of a childhood, and we watch as she finally goes to therapy and attempts to manage her feelings. That is, alongside the struggle to maintain other people’s expectations and the role they want her to play in their personal and work life.

Then with Morgan, like Claire, she is also dealing with perceptions. However, with her, it deals with accepting and owning some of it, like being gruff, yet pushing back when it comes to her family and them devaluing her work as a surgeon. And from there, it goes on and on. We have Dr. Glassman’s relationship with Debbie and trying to make that work, Dr. Lim figuring out how to deal with the human resources part of her job, and just a general pursuit of happiness. Which, for most characters, is a struggle because their job is so taxing that they barely have time to take care of their mental health, emotional well being, and recharge.

Highlights

Meet The Parents

In this season, we finally meet Shaun’s parents but also get to meet Morgan’s mom and her family. This was major for both characters don’t seem molded so much by their friends or environment, but who their parents are, or were. With Morgan having an artistic family, you can get her wanting to be a surgeon, for it allows her to shown her dexterity without pursuing the arts and the ebbs and flow of employment that industry brings. Plus, it allows her to expand, for future generations, what the family offers and means since everyone in her family, but her, is an artist. And it seems that isolation, that need to prove and compete, that is what gives us the often nasty Morgan we have come to love.

Then, when it comes to Shaun, our understanding of his parents came from when Steve was alive. So we saw them as Shaun did as a kid and were allowed to make assumptions and theories. Of which included the idea maybe his mom was abused and scared, hence why she let both of her boys be out in the world and didn’t track them down. Because that always felt like the elephant in the room – why is it Shaun’s mother didn’t reach out, and they didn’t have some kind of relationship?

Well, we get our answer this season, and it is heartbreaking. She chose a man over her kid and then with Shaun’s dad, you get this weird mix of wanting to make amends, since he is dying, but also the need to be the victim. And it is in watching those two interact that you see the heart of every insecurity Shaun has and that, even with it being ten to twenty years since last in each other’s presence, his dad still has a profound effect on him.

But, unfortunately, while we meet Shaun’s parents, the show still doesn’t complete the bridge from him being cast aside by them, to going into foster care, and then Dr. Glassman being his primary caregiver.

Shaun Wanting To Be More and Have More Despite What His Autism Brings To The Table

Shaun looking towards the camera.

As the depiction of marginalized people increases in diverse forms, there is no denying what Shaun brings to the conversation about men with autism. Be it their capabilities as romantic partners, their work lives, or how they deal with a label that helps explain to people why they are different rather than what’s wrong with them.

This season, the show dies down on people poking and prodding Shaun’s abilities and trajectory as a doctor and focuses on what kind of love life, if any, he can have. Which pushes us past the romanticizing of how honest and forward people with autism can be, and takes note of the day to day. It takes on the challenges they can have with intimacy, timing, and learning how to adapt to others and what their needs are. And while we still firmly see Carly as someone who prepped Shaun for his eventual romance with Lea, seeing her struggles gave us what not too many other shows featuring someone with autism have showcased.

Low Points

Alex

When it comes to Alex, he is one of those characters that just never caught on for us. He doesn’t give you a love to hate vibe, like Morgan, or a love and want better for vibe, like Claire. He doesn’t even exist in a happy middle. Alex just seems like a spoiler of moments and someone who they tried to do solo work with, when taking note of his wife and son, but that didn’t click as they thought. So then they tried to pair him with Morgan, Claire, even Shaun at times, but it didn’t create the chemistry desired. However, rather than give up and write him off, there is a desire to continue and try to figure what niche Alex can fit rather than cut him to benefit the more stronger characters. Leaving you to wonder, if to honor the fact this show originated in South Korea, is Alex’s presence meant to keep “The Good Doctor” from erasing the people who made it worth adapting?

On The Fence

The Storylines Of People Not Named Shaun

One of our consistent struggles with “The Good Doctor” is being reminded it is not an ensemble show. This is Shaun’s show, which does strongly feature his peers but is by no means about them. Hence why, just as Claire or Morgan’s storyline seems to ramp up, it gets cut off. They aren’t supposed to be on par with Shaun. Are they supposed to have lives and be seen as developed? Yes. But Shaun is the star, his story is the hook, and he is not going to compete for the spotlight.

And with that, it leaves you in a state of constant wanting that grows in frustration. Especially since, at times, Shaun can become annoying, and you may feel like you need time apart to rediscover why you fell in love with him and the show. So with every storyline stopped before it hit its climax, or falling off and a character being benched, it creates this imbalance. One that pushes you to wonder if the show isn’t sure how to balance its supporting cast vs. its star. Much less, how much of each person’s life should revolve around the star or respect them as individuals?

Overall

Review Summary: One and Done

Rating: Mixed (Stick Around)

I feel like we have to admit that a part of us feels fatigued by “The Good Doctor.” 20 episodes feels like a lot, and as much as we appreciate Shaun’s journey, we don’t find Shaun to be the only hook when it comes to this show. Our interest in him is parallel to the others, and the reminder that this isn’t an ensemble creates an almost disdain for Shaun since we sometimes want a break from him. Especially the push that if your storyline doesn’t involve or revolve around Shaun, it will be clipped at the knees once it can appear you are matching the importance of his story.

Hence the mixed label. “The Good Doctor” continues to be a highlight in representation. However, it’s fight between showing the world outside of Shaun and yet still reminding you the focus is this microcosm, it can create a frustrating experience. One certainly not aided by the usual network TV ridiculous episode order that makes things feel less concise and more bloated.

Season 4 of ABC’s The Good Doctor

Has Another Season Been Confirmed?

Shaun and Lea kissing.

Yes, it has, but with COVID-19 shutting the entertainment industry down, who knows if it’ll premiere during its usual timeslot in the fall.

What Do We Expect From The Next Season?

For Shaun, I’d submit we may begin to move on from the challenge of him being in a relationship or being a doctor, in terms of working with patients. His challenge for season 4 might be having to learn to work with nurses and, since he is coming upon his final years as a resident, learning how to deal with workplace politics. Thus far, Shaun has gotten by on his medical knowledge and, one could say, that compensated for what can sometimes be seen as a nasty attitude. If not one so honed in on an idea or fault, it rubbed others the wrong way.

As for everyone else? We strongly hope to see Dr. Lim take on a mentorship role and absorb the time Dr. Melendez formerly took up. Especially with Claire since they both lost someone they were close to and loved deeply.

In terms of Morgan? A part of me wants to see her deal with what Shaun almost had to, and that is deal with the fact the dream she had for herself would have to be revised. For if there is one thing Morgan proved this season is that she is adaptable. Maybe not the type who evolves and becomes better, but she will take note of her audience, what she can do, and what she can get away with.

Leaving Dr. Glassman and Dr. Andrews, since Lea probably won’t be more than Shaun’s girlfriend. With Dr. Andrews, like they revisited Claire’s old storyline this season, I’d like for his wife to return, and there be some conversation about him and her having kids and starting a family. Then, with Dr. Glassman, I just don’t want Debbie back. Like with Alex, I don’t feel like they bring a whole lot to the show besides a headache. So one can only hope Dr. Glassman’s role might be guiding Shaun, as Claire is guided by Dr. Lim, in positioning themselves to eventually be chosen as the new hire.

The Good Doctor Directory

Character Guide

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Collected Quotes

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Season Reviews

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TitleExcerpt
The Good Doctor: Season 4/ Episode 6 "Lim" – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)In The Good Doctor's return, we focus on Dr. Lim as she juggles the eccentric doctors under her employment, the patients under her care, and an eroding mental/emotional state.
The Good Doctor: Season 4/ Episode 5 "Fault" Winter Finale – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)The winter finale of The Good Doctor reminds you why deaths are rare on the show, and it is because, when someone does die, it needs to have an impact.
The Good Doctor: Season 4/ Episode 4 "Not the Same" – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)As Shaun, begrudgingly, enters a supervisory role, Morgan continues to push Claire and Alex's buttons – and ends up discovering Alex's secret.
The Good Doctor: Season 4/ Episode 3 "Newbies" – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)In "Newbies," we are introduced to 6 characters, of which 4 will continue – which ones will join "The Good Doctor" and potentially become regulars?
The Good Doctor: Season 4/ Episode 2 "Frontline Part 2" – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)As we end the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic on The Good Doctor, we lose cast member(s), but a few gain what they need to press on so the season can truly begin.
The Good Doctor: Season 4/ Episode 1 "Frontline Part 1" [Premiere] – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)Weeks have passed since the 3rd season finale, and with "The Good Doctor" integrating COVID-19 comes a show with renewed energy.
The Good Doctor: Season 3 - Review/ Summary with SpoilersSeason 3 of “The Good Doctor,” especially the second half, felt like it was meant to do course correction and present fans with long-desired moments and open them to new possibilities.
The Good Doctor: Season 3 Episode 20 “I Love You” [Season Finale] – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)So, “The Good Doctor” decides to end its third season in a very dramatic fashion in ways which may make it unrecognizable in season 4.
The Good Doctor: Season 3 Episode 19 “Hurt” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)In part 1 of the season 3 finale of “The Good Doctor,” an earthquake hits that puts many series regulars in a dangerous, potentially life-threatening situation.
The Good Doctor: Season 3 Episode 18 “Heartbreak” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)As Shaun deals with his first set of heartbreaks, Morgan and Claire try to decide if they are capable of compromising their passions.
The Good Doctor: Season 3 Episode 17 “Fixation” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)In “Fixation,” Shaun turns his hyperfocus onto his relationship with Lea as Kellan returns, and so does Claire’s old friend Dash.
The Good Doctor: Season 3 Episode 16 “Autopsy” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)Alongside a hint as to what’s next for Dr. Lim, Shaun decides to tell Lea how he feels, and her reaction is…
The Good Doctor: Season 3 Episode 15 “Unsaid” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)As Dr. Melendez tries to deal with accusations of favoritism, Carly truly being fine with Shaun and Lea’s friendship is tested.
The Good Doctor: Season 3 Episode 14 “Influence” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)Shaun may have found a way to bring Lea back into the fold, which bothers Carly. However, not as much as Alex is bothered by Dr. Melendez not siding with him.
The Good Doctor: Season 3 Episode 13 "Sex and Death" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)In an episode mostly dedicated to Morgan, and Shaun getting Carly to orgasm, we finally get to understand why she was formerly so caustic.
The Good Doctor: Season 3 Episode 12 “Mutations” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)As the possibility of Dr. Melendez and Claire grows, Carly and Shaun seem less stable and Morgan faces a real problem.
The Good Doctor: Season 3 Episode 11 “Fractured” [Winter Premiere] Recap/ ReviewIn the winter premiere, Shaun finds himself forced to face Carly and what happened with Lea as Claire tries to deal with someone who triggers old memories.
The Good Doctor: Season 3 (First Half) Recap/ ReviewLoss and the adjustment required to bring something into your heart is the focus of the first half of season 3, and for no character is it easy.
The Good Doctor: Season 3, Episode 10 “Friends and Family” [Mid-Season Finale] – Recap, Review (with Spoilers)The fall finale sets up major changes for when the show returns January 13th, and not just for Shaun but also Claire.
The Good Doctor: Season 3, Episode 9 “Incomplete” – Recap, Review (with Spoilers)Morgan reveals something from her past, Claire might have hit rock bottom and finds unexpected comfort and Shaun? Well, his relationship with Carly continues to be tested.
The Good Doctor: Season 3, Episode 8 “Moonshot” – Recap, Review (with Spoilers)Morgan reveals a secret that could evolve into an actual storyline as both Carly and Shaun, as well as Dr. Lim and Dr. Melendez, struggle in their relationships.
The Good Doctor: Season 3, Episode 7 “SFAD” – Recap, Review (with Spoilers)As Morgan continues to push Claire back to being her old self, Shaun, Dr. Melendez, and Dr. Glassman continue to struggle with the expectations of the partners.
The Good Doctor: Season 3, Episode 6 “45-Degree Angle” – Recap, Review (with Spoilers)Shaun’s communication issues almost end his residency prematurely, and his continued use of 3rd parties in his relationship also causes strife.
The Good Doctor: Season 3, Episode 5 “First Care, Second Base” – Recap, Review (with Spoilers)A familiar face reappears this episode as Shaun deals with everyone pushing him to feel anxiety or be nervous over his first lead surgery.
The Good Doctor: Season 3, Episode 4 "Take My Hand" - Recap, Review (With Spoilers)Claire and Morgan share another moment because of Breeze and Shaun, alongside Dr. Glassman, deal with their fear, and/or stubbornness.
The Good Doctor: Season 3, Episode 3 “Claire” – Recap, Review (with Spoilers)Someone once said that for every person you steal from death, they take one personal to you. Claire learns that lesson this episode.
The Good Doctor: Season 3, Episode 2 “Debts” – Recap, Review (with Spoilers)Shaun continues to be pressed by everyone to give dating another chance as Dr. Andrews tries to embrace his demotion.
The Good Doctor: Season 3, Episode 1 “Disaster” [Season Premiere] – Recap, Review (with Spoilers)We got through Shaun’s date with Carly, that he says is a disaster, as cases Shaun and Morgan work on put things in perspective.
The Good Doctor: Season 2 - Recap, Review (with Spoilers)Season 2 of The Good Doctor leans on the personal, and sometimes professional, growing pain of its characters as organizational changes happen.
The Good Doctor: Season 2, Episode 18 “Trampoline” [Season Finale] - Recap, Review (with Spoilers)The unexpected happens for Shaun in a multitude of ways, including him taking the kind of leap we’ve been waiting for a long time.
The Good Doctor: Season 2, Episode 17 “Breakdown” - Recap, Review (with Spoilers)Shaun tries to assert himself with Dr. Han as he feels largely unsupported. As that happens, Dr. Lim and Melendez contemplate coming out.
The Good Doctor: Season 2, Episode 16 "Believe" - Recap, Review (with Spoilers)Everyone is forced to be an advocate in some form, but the big challenge for many is being an advocate for themselves.
The Good Doctor: Season 2, Episode 15 "Risk and Reward" - Recap, Review (with Spoilers)A new chief of surgery comes about, and his style disrupts Shaun’s life as much as a talkative guy when Dr. Glassman gets chemotherapy.
The Good Doctor: Season 2, Episode 14 "Faces" - Recap, Review (with Spoilers)Guilt and regrets are prominent themes and emotions in “Faces” as old, and new, faces enter the characters’ lives.
The Good Doctor: Season 2/ Episode 13 "XIN" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
The Good Doctor: Season 2/ Episode 12 "Aftermath" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)While a lot of people heal old wounds, even find loved ones, some are left as lonely as they were when we first met them.
The Good Doctor: Season 2/ Episode 11 "Quarantine (Part 2)" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)More people die, and there are moments in which the winter premiere of The Good Doctor will have you shed tears.
The Good Doctor: Season 2/ Episode 10 "Quarantine" [Mid-Season Finale] - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)The mid-season finale is all about building anticipation as people die left and right and you wonder, will a main cast member be written off?
The Good Doctor: Season 2/ Episode 9 "Empathy" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)Dr. Andrews finally decides who will be chief of surgery as the residents deal with emotionally, and morally, challenging patients.
The Good Doctor: Season 2/ Episode 8 "Stories" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)Dr. Andrews pops his head back in to address a Claire situation and Dr. Park’s past continues to be danced around. Also, it is revealed Morgan has friends.
The Good Doctor: Season 2/ Episode 7 "Hubert" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)As we learn Claire does have a life outside of the hospital, two brothers trigger Shaun’s memories of not just Steve but his father.
The Good Doctor: Season 2/ Episode 6 "Two-Ply (or Not Two-Ply) - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
The Good Doctor: Season 2/ Episode 5 "Carrots" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
The Good Doctor: Season 2/ Episode 4 "Tough Titmouse" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
The Good Doctor: Season 2/ Episode 3 "36 Hours" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
The Good Doctor: Season 2/ Episode 2 "Middle Ground" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
The Good Doctor: Season 2/ Episode 1 "Hello" [Season Premiere] - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
The Good Doctor: Season 1 - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
The Good Doctor: Season 1/ Episode 18 "More" [Season Finale] - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
The Good Doctor: Season 1/ Episode 17 "Smile" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
The Good Doctor: Season 1/ Episode 16 "Pain" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
The Good Doctor: Season 1/ Episode 15 "Heartfelt" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
The Good Doctor: Season 1/ Episode 14 "She" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
The Good Doctor: Season 1/ Episode 13 "Seven Reasons" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
The Good Doctor: Season 1/ Episode 12 "Islands: Part 2" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
The Good Doctor: Season 1/ Episode 11 "Islands: Part One" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
The Good Doctor: Season 1 (First Half) - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
The Good Doctor: Season 1/ Episode 10 "Sacrifice" [Mid-Season Finale] - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
The Good Doctor: Season 1/ Episode 9 "Intangibles" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
The Good Doctor: Season 1/ Episode 8 "Apple" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
The Good Doctor: Season 1/ Episode 7 "22 Steps" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
The Good Doctor: Season 1/ Episode 6 "Not Fake" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
The Good Doctor: Season 1/ Episode 5 "Point Three Percent" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
The Good Doctor: Season 1/ Episode 4 "Pipes" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
The Good Doctor: Season 1/ Episode 3 "Oliver" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
The Good Doctor: Season 1/ Episode 2 "Mount Rushmore" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
The Good Doctor: Season 1/ Episode 1 "Burnt Food" [Series Premiere] - Overview/ Review (with Spoilers)
Meet The Parents - 88%
Shaun Wanting To Be More and Have More Despite What His Autism Brings To The Table - 84%
Alex - 65%
The Storylines Of People Not Named Shaun - 76%

78%

“The Good Doctor” continues to be a highlight in representation. However, it’s fight between showing the world outside of Shaun and yet still reminding you the focus is this microcosm, it can create a frustrating experience.

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Amari Allah

I started Wherever I Look back in 2011 and have aimed to be that friend who loves watching various forms of media and talking about it. So, from bias, strong opinions, and a perspective you may not have thought about, you'll find that in our reviews.

2 Comments

  1. I must say as a fan of The Good Doctor and an autistic individual I find myself strongly disagreeing with many of your opinions here. In particular, your desire to have the series become more ensemble oriented and that Shaun being the lead supposedly creates a “disdain” for the character. In my experience, I’ve found the opposite to be true and believe maintaining that status quo is very important for the series going forward, as well as the aforementioned representation you acknowledge this show provides.

    The Good Doctor, despite its name, was always meant to be a coming of age story about a young man with autism first and a medical drama second. Shaun’s struggles of trying to fit into a highly stressful/competitive field like Medicine while also navigating the hardships of life and relationships are what makes this show compelling to so many people above the usual medical drama. Us fans don’t resent Shaun at all for taking the spot light, because seeing his life as an autistic man is literally what we tune in every week for, and is one of the only places on prime time television that delivers it on a regular basis.

    So no, I cannot agree with you that the show would be better off as a medical ensemble since Shaun’s story, no matter how “annoying” or otherwise inconvenient it might be, is the type of representation that neurodivergent people deserve, the kind that doesn’t pull any punches by showing the good and bad sides of having autism. Without that, what makes this show any different than the other medical dramas that are a dime a dozen on television now a days? Don’t we deserve at least one where someone like us can be the lead?

    1. By no means were my statements intended to imply there isn’t value in the representation Shaun brings. Between limited roles featuring characters with autism, never mind, as you said, which focus on the good and bad, “The Good Doctor’s” role in media can’t be understated. However, our frustration stems from the show investing just enough in supporting characters to the point you want to see more of them. For, in the way “The Good Doctor” is written, it teeter-totters between almost being like an ensemble to being about Shaun. So whenever it shifts back to being about him facing adversity and his experience, it seems to always be at the cost of another character’s storyline that ends up fading away or dropped. Hence the “annoying” comment.

      Also, with shows like “Atypical” and “Everything’s Gonna Be Okay,” the hook that “The Good Doctor” originally had in being almost the sole representation for people with autism isn’t there anymore. Which, for me, opens it up for criticism since it no longer feels like it should be shielded or put on a pedestal since it isn’t the only one that is accessible and on a major platform.

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